2019 SIS International Photo Contest Submission Deadline: October 21, 2019

Snow capped mountains surrounding a green valley on a sunny cloudless day in Nepal.

The Office of International Programs (OIP) is pleased to announce the Fourth Annual SIS International Photo Contest. ALL SIS Graduate students, alumni, faculty, and staff are welcome to submit two photos per category before October 21, 2019.

Please review this page in its entirety for all contest information; including but not limited to eligibility, categories, submission requirements, voting procedures, prizes, unveiling, etc.


To participate you must be an SIS community member that falls into one of the following categories:

  • SIS Graduate Student*
  • SIS Alumni
  • SIS Staff**
  • SIS Faculty

*SIS Undergraduates who participated in an SIS Abroad program (Sciences Po, Korea University, Ritsumeikan University, Asia Pacific University), may also submit photos for consideration. Graduate students DO NOT need to be past participants on an SIS Abroad program to submit photos.

**Full-time SIS Staff who are also students are only eligible as staff members. Part-time SIS Staff members who are also graduate students will be only eligible as students.


SIS Graduate Student Categories

There will be one winner for each category. Submissions for these categories can be from any international activity (whether or not it was connected to an SIS related travel or program).

  • SIS Faces- Photos submitted for this category should display folks from the SIS community in an international context. Examples of these photos may be of a student conducting research abroad, a photo from an international internship experience, photos in-front of historical sites/landmarks, faculty teaching a course abroad, staff co-leading an alternative break, etc. The options are broad, but as the name suggests, these photos should include yourself, your colleagues or a member of the SIS community as they engage in meaningful activities abroad or are featured at a site that is significant to their activity abroad. International students may submit photos taken in the United States.
  • Open Spaces & Urban Places- Photos submitted for this category may be taken in cities, in the country side, at so-called 'world wonders' and ideally will display the diversity of culture, landscapes, and communities around the world. This category is an opportunity for students to share photos from a wide variety of international experiences like living in a city abroad, visiting a small community, exploring nature and beyond. International students may submit photos taken in the United States.

SIS Alumni, Faculty, and Staff Categories

For any SIS community member that fall into one of these three statuses, you are eligible to submit up to two photos to participate in the contest. Your submissions will be voted on only in their own category, one for faculty, one for staff, and one for alumni. The photos in each category will only be competing against other photos from people in the same category (i.e. staff photos are only competing to win the staff category among other staff members).

Submission Guidelines

All submissions should be submitted on or before 11:59 PM October 21, 2019.

Please send all photos, as attachments (please see photo specifications in section below), and include the information listed below for each submission to sisstudyabroad@gmail.com

  1. Name (first, last)
  2. AU ID, if applicable
  3. SIS Affiliation & Program, if applicable
  4. Category
  5. Title of Photo
  6. Location of Photo
  7. Year Taken
  8. Brief Description of Photo

Photo Submission Rules

  • Please use this format to name each photo: LastNameLocation
  • Staff, faculty, and alumni can submit up to two photos each per respective category.
  • Students may submit up to two photos for each of the student categories (i.e. two photos per category, per student)
  • No repeats - The same photo for two categories will NOT be permitted
  • All photos must be submitted by 11:59 PM, October 21, 2019.
  • Late submissions will not be accepted.

Photo Specifications

  • Please submit files no larger than 20MB at the time of entry
  • Higher resolution files of at least 240 dpi/ppi are preferred; high quality photos of this nature will also be needed for any winning photo to be properly printed and showcased.
  • All photos must be submitted in a .jpeg or .png format.
  • Winners will receive a framed photo with an additional print being displayed in the SIS building.
  • Photos will be 8x10 and/or 11x14; please keep these dimensions in mind when submitting photos (i.e. square photos are discouraged)

Other Submission Conditions:

All entries become property of American University and may be published in any format. By entering this Contest, you represent and warrant that: (i) you are the sole author, creator, and owner of the photos; (ii) except for material used by permission, none of the intellectual property rights in the photos, or any portion thereof, has been assigned or transferred to anyone; (iii) the photos do not violate any applicable laws; and (iv) the photos do not infringe upon or violate intellectual property rights or privacy rights held by any third person or party. By submitting your photos, you give permission to American University to use, reproduce, publish, display and/or distribute your image(s) for any purpose, including the promotion of the School of International Service International Programs, inclusion in reports, print materials and on the School of International Service and/or Office of International Programs Webpages. You also agree that no compensation shall be due to you for the granting of this license. You hereby release American University, its officers, directors, agents, and employees from all liability or legal responsibility that may arise from the acts that you granted herein. You also expressly acknowledge that this photograph is your property, the people in your photo are aware of the photograph's existence and have no objection to the photo being shared for the purposes of this contest.

Selection criteria

Winning entries from each category will be selected on the best quality photographs that convey a strong sense of place or express a cross-cultural experience. 


The SIS Office of International Programs will convene a panel of SIS staff, faculty and alumni to select the winning photos from the SIS Faces, Urban Places and Open Spaces, Alumni, Faculty and Staff categories. The decisions of the panels are final and incontestable.

The SIS Community will have the opportunity to select their favorite finalist photo for the 'SIS Judges' Favorite' during International Education Week (November 11-15) in the SIS Atrium. Event details will be announced as soon as they are finalized.

SIS Alumni, Faculty, and Staff will not be eligible for prizes but will receive a framed copy of their winning photo. All winners will have their photos displayedby the SIS Spanish Steps until the following years winners are announced.


  • SIS Graduate Students: A framed and matted photo to each category winner. Additionally, another prize will be awarded for each of the three student categories:
    • SIS Faces- SIS Hoodie
    • Urban Places/Open Spaces- $50 AU Rewards Card
    • SIS Judges' Favorite- $100 AU Rewards Card
  • SIS Alumni, Faculty, and Staff: Framed and matted photo
  • All Winners: Recognition at photo unveiling and photo will be displayed by the SIS Spanish Steps for up to one year

    Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. Winners are responsible for any tax implications as a result of their winning a prize. Any entrant who supplies false information, enters the Contest by fraudulent means, or is otherwise determined to be in violation of the eligibility criteria or terms of these terms shall be ineligible for any Prize and shall be required to forfeit any Prize obtained based on such information or means.


Photo winners will be announced during International Education week, November 11-15, 2019, and will be personally notified via email. 

Additional Information

The University reserves the right to refuse to display or use any photos in its sole discretion. The University also reserves the right at any time during and after the Contest to remove or disqualify any photographs when it believes in its sole discretion that the entrant has: (i) infringed any third party's copyright or privacy rights; (ii) failed to comply with these Contest terms; or (iii) failed to obtain the necessary consents as set out in these Contest terms. The Contest shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the District of Columbia. The University specifically reserves the right to amend or change these terms and conditions at any time for any reason. The University will communicate any such changes on its website.

Winners of the 2018 Competition

SIS Student Winners

Historical bridge over blue river in Bosnia and Herzegovina overlooking the city

SIS Community Pick

"Bathed in Light" by Sarah Ampolsk
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina; 2015

This photograph showcases Mostar's famous 16th century Ottoman bridge, Stari Most, which was destroyed during the 1990's war and rebuilt after the conflict. To me, the bridge is symbolic of the beauty and resilience of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its people.

Two Peruvian woman on a walk down a cobblestone street in Cusco, Peru.

Winner of Open Spaces, Urban Places

"A Colorful Morning Walk" by Renee Garcia-Tolson
Cusco, Peru; 2018

Two women begin their workday on a cold morning. They are walking down to the central plaza, carrying striped blankets fashioned into pouches for their baby alpacas. Sitting at an altitude of over 11,000 feet, Cusco is home to a mix of Inca and Spanish influence. Many Quechua families from Andean mountain communities travel long distances to Cusco and sell handmade textiles in the markets or to tourists exploring the cobblestone streets.

Catherine Cohen, an SIS graduate student, sitting with her friend's grandma in Azerbaijan

Winner of SIS Faces

"Stories with Nənə on the Border" by Catherine Cohen
Alibeyli, Tovuz, Azerbaijan; 2018

Hearing stories from my friend's grandma about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in front of the window, where I found out later there was a bullet mark on the wall.

Gray stone slabs of differing heights at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, Germany

SIS Faculty

Faculty Winner

"Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe" by Robert Tomasko
Berlin, Germany; 2007

Sitting a stone’s throw from what was Adolf Hitler’s bunker and Chancellery on land that was later home to the Berlin Wall, this is the most moving memorial I have ever seen. Its bland, gray concrete slabs of varying heights in a grid pattern represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason – the horribly efficient Nazi killing machine. I want the viewer of the photo to sense some of the disorientation, discomfort, and entrapment the Memorial conveys to a visitor lost walking among the concrete rectangles.

A woman weaving fabric made from lotus stems at Inle Lake in Myanmar

SIS Alumni

Alumni Winner

"The Lotus Weavr" by Ha Le
Inle Lake, Myanmar; 2012

For over a century, women in Inle Lake have weaved their faith and devotion into the world's most expensive and finest fabrics which is made of lotus stems. It often takes at least 20,000 lotus stems and 40 days of hard work to produce one square meter of the fabric.

A shaman performing a ritual on a blue sky day with Lake Titicaca in the background in Bolivia

SIS Staff

Staff Winner

"Shaman on the Isla del Sol" by Marisa Rivero
Lake Titicaca, Bolivia; 2004

A shaman performs an ancient ritual on the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) with Lake Titicaca in the background.